I have visited four other libraries in Brooklyn and Manhattan looking for the fabric-craft books. All are AWOL: Away Without Loan. "It's tough to keep that kind of book on the shelf," one librarian tells me. "They're expensive, people want to own them, and we can't afford to keep replacing them."
"Don't people get it that the public library is for the public?" I ask her, singing a hymn to the choir. She looks up at me with gentle eyes, as if she has just broken it to a child that people can be mean.
I shake my head and walk away, unable to decide which distresses me more: the rape and pillage of the commons or the idea that a person who makes silk flowers would steal a book from the library.